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jennifer richard jacobson

About the Book

When Aris mother died four years ago, she had two final
wishes: that Ari and her older brother, Gage, would stay
together always, and that Ari would attend Carter, the
middle school for gifted students. So when nineteen-yearold Gage decides he can no longer live with their bossy
guardian, Ari knows she has to go with him. But its been
two months and Gage still hasnt found them an apartment.
He and Ari have been couch surfing, staying with Gages
friend in a tiny apartment, crashing with Gages girlfriend
and two roommates, and, when necessary, sneaking into a
juvenile shelter to escape the cold Maine nights. But all this
jumping around makes it hard for Ari to keep up with her
schoolwork, never mind her friendships, and getting into
Carter starts to seem impossible. Will she be forced to break
one of her promises to Mama? Told in an open, authentic
voice, this nuanced story of hiding in plain sight encourages
readers to think about homelessness in a whole new way.

HC: 978-0-7636-6323-0
Also available as an e-book and in audio

Common Core
This discussion guide, which can be used with large or small
groups, will help students meet several of the Common Core
State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts. These
include the Reading Literature standards for Key Ideas and
Details, Craft and Structure, and Integration of Knowledge
and Ideas (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL), as well as the Speaking and
Listening standards for Comprehension and Collaboration
and for Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL). Questions can also be used as writing prompts for
independent work.

Paper Things Candlewick Press Discussion Guide page 1

discussion questions
1. Gage leaves his home and takes Ari with him.

6. Why doesnt Ari tell others that she and Gage

What personality traits lead him to make this

are struggling? What would you have done in

decision? Do you think he is a good brother?

her situation?

2. Which scenes best show Aris strengths as a

person? Which scenes shed light on her
weaknesses? Did the experience of homelessness
change her? If so, how?
3. Discuss Ari and Sashas friendship. Do you think
they will remain best friends? Why or why not?
4. Both family traditions and school traditions are
important to Ari. What traditions are important
to you? Why?

7. What kind of leadership role would you invent at

your school? How would this benefit others?
8. Ari feels extraordinary pressure to get into Carter.
Where do you feel pressure to succeed in your life?
Is this pressure reasonable?
9. Daniel creates a bucket list. What things would
you like to do before you leave your current school?
10. When Ari says that she doesnt want Carter to
think shes a troublemaker, Daniel replies: Better

5. Ari says, Ever since I can remember, Ive had this

theory that when each person is born, he or she is
given an imaginary sack with the same number of
happy moments, same number of horrible-news
moments, same number of please-let-me-die-now
embarrassments (page 105). What do you think
of this theory? Support your argument.

than Carter not thinking of you at all. What does

he mean? Do you think that its true?
11. If you were to make a wish-plane, what would you
fold it from? Why?
12. Is the ending of the story realistic? Would you
change the ending in any way? If so, how?

About the Author

Jennifer Richard Jacobson grew up in a family of storytellers. My brothers, she says,
had the ability to make us laugh until our bellies hurt. I wasnt as hilarious, but I learned
how to take the mishaps in life (especially the embarrassments) and turn them into a
dramatic story. She is the author of several books for children and young adults,
including the middle-grade novel Small as an Elephant and the Andy Shane early
chapter books, illustrated by Abby Carter. She is also a teacher, educational consultant,
editor, and speaker. She lives in Cumberland, Maine.

Paper Things Candlewick Press Discussion Guide page 2

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